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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

A Certain Age

A certain Age

ISBN: 0062404954

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 6/28/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

The New York Herald-Tribune celebrates the launch of Beatriz’s upcoming novel with an issue devoted to all things A Certain Age. Click to Download and Read The New York Herald-Tribune

My Review

A CERTAIN AGE, is a delicious gripping tale of love, secrets, and family scandal in the glamorous Jazz Age — inspired by Richard Strauss’ masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier — a glamorous New York Manhattan socialite loses her young lover to an ingénue with a mysterious past. (Love the elegant cover)! The queen of historical fiction, Beatriz Williams skillfully blends the old and new, sorrow and joy, wealth and depression, the delicate and fierce, with an ongoing theme of age—from the dazzling youth to the middle age. In a time of contrasts, extremes and profound changes. The exciting 1920s, in the wake of the First World War-- science, art, modern age, wealth, women’s movements, and the glamorous Jazz Age in New York. Inspired by Richard Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier (Marschallin), from love, honor, betrayal, high society, and lowbrow secrets combine in a delightful timeless tale. Sprinkled with snippets of clever witty advice from Helen Rowland at the beginning of each chapter, (think Carrie Bradshaw), from “Reflections of a Bachelor Girl”—making for a perfect match for the context of intricacies of love and marriage. A love triangle. Theresa, Octavian, Sophie. Two love stories: Octavian and Theresa. Sophie and Octavian. An aviator (flyboy) “the boy” has returned from the war in France. An affair. An older woman and a younger man more than twenty years apart in age, find comfort in one another. In between a shocking family mystery. Mrs. Theresa Marshall, age 44, married (the most inquisitive) of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island—wealthy, elegant, chic, and fashionable. She and her husband, Sylvo have an agreement. After all, the well-respected philanderer husband has younger mistresses. So a younger man seems a suitable compromise. She meets her new younger lover at a late-night Fourth of July society party on Long Island. Instant fireworks. Octavian, age 22, her lover. He wants to marry and have babies. Of course, Theresa is not interested in such things, since her children are much older and she has a husband. Complications compound things. Her brother, Edmund Jay “Ox” Ochsner wants to marry 19 year old Sophie Fortescue, youngest daughter of the so-called Patent King, an entrepreneur and inventor who made his fortune as his nickname suggests. To add even more spice, we hear from “Patty Cake,” a jaded society reporter from a New York paper, covering a “Trial of the Century” in Connecticut. Theresa enlists Octavian, to act as cavalier for Ox, delivering a rose-shaped engagement ring to Sophie at her father’s home on 32nd Street-- and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family (wealthy father). They soon become smitten with one another, while he discovers family secrets. Loyalties are tested and relationships are threatened. Even after Sophie has accepted Theresa’s brother’s proposal, she finds herself falling for Octavian. Although he’s supposed to be working to reassure Theresa, he can’t ignore his attraction to Sophie. He feels a connection to her—they share a connection from the past that takes their relationship to a whole other level. Theresa loses her lover and her hubby wants to marry his mistress. Testimony at trial recalls a Greenwich, Connecticut, house once occupied by a mechanic, who disappeared with his two daughters after his wife was found murdered. Chapters alternate in time, for a delicious and entertaining saga. As always, Williams brings the Roaring Twenties to life—from the setting, mixed with intrigue, romance, and scandal. Love this era—the fashion, the atmosphere, and the glamour. No one can spin a tale from the past, better than Williams. After finishing the audiobook narrated by Mia Barron, Barbara Goodson, and Adrienne Rusk,- delivering a gripping performance, I watched the Amazon Prime Pilot “The Last Tycoon”, based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. More Golden Age, love triangles, older woman-younger man-- glitz, and glamour and Hollywood scandal (loved it), especially sexy Matt Bomer and stunning Lily Collins. A blending of fact and fiction --From old and new money, past and present, and the scandalous secrets. The New York Herald-Tribune celebrates the launch of Beatriz’s upcoming novel with an issue devoted to A Certain Age. What’s Next Looking forward to more Roaring Twenties: Coming January 2017:

– The Wicked City “A spin-off series about a steadfast Prohibition agent and the dashing New York City flapper who — reluctantly — helps him break a bootlegging ring, all of which is framed by a contemporary narrative about the woman who moves into the flapper’s old apartment, decades later. The Wicked books will come out in winter, alternating with my stand-alone books in summer, and those fictional worlds will definitely intersect, though you won’t have to read one to read the other.”

On a personal note: Every time I visit HMF’s The Breakers Palm Beach, I cannot help but feel I am re-living this exciting era. Named for The Breakers’ founding father, Henry Morrison Flagler this thrillingly glamorous retreat is an ode to golden era Palm Beach, with all of its high style, grace, and unapologetic decadence. When stepping into room, the ambiance, the mood, takes you back: Listen to the Music It awakens your spirit, and resonates the glamour and sophistication of the exciting and dazzling 1920's. (all of these selections are on my personal playlist).

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Beatriz Williams

About the Author

New York Times, USA TODAY and International Bestselling Author A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. Read More

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